05 Mar When the world feels unsteady, focus on what you can control
The world might be feeling a bit unsteady lately – out of control. The newest virus, the 2020 election, never-ending rain, etc… For those of you who like to plan and feel in control, it is an anxiety producing time.
It’s a time when we could all benefit from the practice of stepping back and assessing what we can vs. what we cannot control.
And when I say, “we could all benefit from stepping back and assessing what we can vs. what we cannot control,” I mean me too. The 24-hour news cycle has a lot to do with the anxiety. So much information blasting us with really provocative headlines.
I can’t tell you how often I’m jolted by a headline only to read the actual article and think, “well that’s not so bad.” The problem is that I don’t always have time to read and investigate. When I do, my nervous system is often calmed down. Sometimes a little, sometimes a lot! This is something under my control.
I can also limit the time I look at the news to a 10 to 30-minute block once a day. I highly recommend this practice. It’s enough. I can’t control the happenings in the news and unless you’re a government official or other expert in the day’s drama, neither can you.
So when you find yourself feeling anxious and worrying, take a minute to think about what you’re worrying about. Break up the topics into, Things I can Control or Influence and Things I can’t Control or Influence. Honor the worry about the things you can’t change. You’re not crazy to worry, it’s just not a great use of time and it leads to a sense of helplessness.
Then, turn your attention to things you can impact. See where you can take small actions to get a sense of control back. It might be as simple as opening the mail, picking your kids up from school, being kind to strangers, planning a walk outside with the dog and an umbrella. Essentially, actions that bring order to your world.
My grandmother used to have the Serenity Prayer hanging on her wall. She and my mother refer to it in times that feel overwhelming. We all have them, just right now it seems we are all having them together.
No matter your religious affiliation, it may be a helpful at this particular moment in time:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.
Be well and wash your hands. 🙂
Kate Murphy, LCSW
Kate Murphy, a therapist in Chamblee, GA, specializes in helping you decrease stress and anxiety. You can live a more balanced, connected, and meaningful life. Kate works with individuals and couples over the age of 18 to support healing, communicating, and experiencing joy more often.